French Onion Soup Mostly Julia's Way

Tonight’s dinner was one of those everything-is-right-with-a-world-that-is-so-not-right moments. The last time I made French Onion Soup, my husband called it, soul warming.

Image Onion Soup Images

But tonight’s soup? He lost his ability to use words, instead, communicating through a variety of guttural moans and nearly swooning. When he did regain his language skills, he said two words. “Oh, Baby”.

We’re not, nor have we ever been, part of the “Oh, Baby” generation. In fact, we’ve cringed while watching Amazing Race whose producers seem to go above and beyond the call-of-duty, recruiting 20-somethings who scream, “C’mon, Baby”, from every corner of the world until they’re finally, blissfully, thankfully, mercifully, knocked out of the game.

“Dad, are you okay”, was a logical, practical question, asked by the 14-year-old.

“Yeah, I’m fine but…..but….did you taste this soup your mother made?????”

“Uh, yeah, like, you know….it was really, really good. It is SUPER good, but, well, you’re embarrassing me.”

The husband hung his head, chagrined, apologizing, “I’m sorry, honey. I’ll try to enjoy this more quietly.”

He took another few bites but the soup regained control of his senses, at which point, the 14-year-old said, “You know, I think I’ll eat in the other room and give him a moment of privacy….”, while the 9-year-old, a very practical Aspie, good at stating-the-obvious, commented, “Yeah, Dad, I know how you feel. So you really enjoy that soup, huh?”

After dinner, working together in the kitchen, I couldn’t resist doing a little teasing, to which my husband denied everything! Without a word, I dipped a piece of leftover toasted sourdough into a tiny bit of remaining broth, slipping it into his protesting mouth. Immediately, he sighed deeply and moaned, “Oh, baby….”. Oh, brother….

If you haven’t heard “Oh, Baby” in awhile (or ever), here are some specifics on ingredients.

Bone Broth – Simmered for nearly 24-hours, pulling every ounce of goodness from a combination of grass-fed, pastured marrow and meaty bones – about 8-pounds total. When cooled, the consistency was that of a medium-set gelatin.

Onions and garlic – Grown with biodynamic practices by our CSA (Consumer Supported Agriculture) community farm; hand-cut all 3+ pounds of onions with a new 7-inch Santoku knife, producing a far more delicate cut than my thinnest food-processor blade.

The wine? – Pinot Grigio, by Turning Leaf – not-so-great for drinking, but adds a mellowing fruit-essence to the beefiness of the stock.

Sourdough? – Made by a local wood-fired wild-culture sourdough bakery tucked away in the New Hampshire mountains.

Swiss cheese? – Julie called for “Swiss” cheese, but I’m thinking she didn’t mean the Swiss with the holes in it, but instead, Swiss Alpage traditional cheese which she would easily have had within her reach, when living in France: Gruyeres – the $14.99-a-pound-are-they-out-of-their-minds variety of cheese. You only need 1/4-pound, though, if that. It is HUGE on flavor and a tremendous cheese.

Parmesan Cheese – Grating my own own Parmigiano-Reggiano gave a huge flavor reward.

Thyme – While Julia doesn’t add thyme, and might even frown at the notion, I’ve always added thyme to my French Onion soup, ever since praising a chef for “one of the most amazing French Onion soups I’ve ever had”. “Thyme”, he whispered, and thyme it has always been.

The Last Sip

When my husband expressed sadness that he was taking his final sip, our son tried to reassure him with the notion, “If Mom can’t make this again, I’m sure we can find a restaurant that might sell it to us.”

“Son, you could pay a fortune at the very best restaurant in the world, and I can guarantee you, not a single one of them, will ever compare with what your mother made for tonight’s dinner. Grass-fed pastured bone-broth? There’s no way…..”

Julia lays a strong foundation, but the end-result is only as good as your ingredients and, I think, perhaps, a trained sense of taste that develops over time. A love, adoration like Julia, for real food, doesn’t hurt, either.

Image French Onion Soup French Onion Soup Mostly Julia’s Way

This classic French Onion Soup recipe by Julia Child is wonderfully easy and absolutely delicious, especially if you are particular about each element that contributes to the overall quality. Mastering the art of making bone broths or stocks, goes a long way toward laying a strong foundation for any great soup. It is assumed all ingredients are organic, grass-fed, pastured, locally-raised and grown, as much as possible.

Servings: 6

2 T butter (I used 4 T, grassfed, home-made)
1/4 cup olive oil (organic!)
3 lbs onions, halved and sliced thin (I used 4 lbs)
2 cloves garlic, minced very fine
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 cups dry white wine (Turning Leaf, Pinot Grigio)
6 cups beef stock or chicken stock (Beef is always the best choice!)
6 ovenproof soup bowls
12 toasted slices of French baguettes, 1/2 inch thick (Or de-crusted traditional sourdough)
2 cups Swiss cheese, grated (Gruyeres….don’t use the stuff with the holes)
3 teaspoons Parmesan cheese, grated (Parmigiano-Reggiano)

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat melt the butter and oil together.
  2. Add the onions, garlic, and sugar. Saute until slightly colored, stirring occasionally (don’t stir too much – you want them to brown), for 7 minutes. [Not enough time for anything to happen! I let them cook down for 45-minutes!]
  3. Add the white wine, raise temperature to medium high, and bring to a boil.
  4. Lower temperature back down to medium and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the stock, raise temperature to medium high and bring to a simmer.
  6. Lower temperature to low and simmer uncovered for 1 hour (60 minutes).
  7. At this point you can freeze the soup for reheating later (after thawing).
  8. To serve at this point, continue with steps: first, preheat your broiler.
  9. Ladle the soup into the ovenproof soup bowls (6 of them).
  10. Place two slices of toasted baguette (or, sliced sourdough) onto the top of each soup bowl.
  11. Sprinkle each serving with 1/3 cup of Swiss cheese, then 1 teaspoon of Parmesan cheese.
  12. Place soup bowls onto a baking sheet and place in oven under preheated broiler.
  13. Broil until the cheese melts (watch them carefully – depending on your broiler and how far the rack is from the heat, it can take anywhere to 45 to 90 seconds or so).
  14. Serve immediately.